AMD has initiated a pre-emptive strike against NVIDIA's upcoming GeForce 9600 GT graphics card, claiming its own cards offer similar, if not better, features on the market for the past three months.
With 9600 cards expected to hit the market at suggested retail prices in the range of US$169-189, this puts them up against AMD's current mid-range offering, the Radeon HD 3850, at between US$169-229. However, early benchmark results show the 9600 GT delivering performance just slightly below that of AMD's higher-end product, the 3870, which carries current pricing of around US$189-250 and above.
AMD pointed out that in recent history, retailers have been eager to capitalize on the high demand and short supply of graphics cards seen just after launch, warning it is possible we will see 9600 GTs carrying a premium which would effectively eliminate Nvidia's price advantage during the short-term.
AMD was also quick to highlight several specifications found in its 3000-series products that it says Nvidia has still yet to match. These include support for DirectX 10.1, 55nm manufacturing leading to cooler, quieter cards, and built-in HDCP. While these claims are all valid, it is debatable whether they serve as anything more than marketing check-points. Games that utilize DX 10.1 are not expected to hit the market in the near- or mid-term, and general opinion is divided on whether it will offer any significant benefit over DX 10. For HDCP, in the current market, it is highly likely vendors will implement support across the range, except for limited cases such as cards destined for OEM or emerging markets.
On the other hand, early testing does show AMD having a small but noticeable advantage in terms of heat, power consumption and noise.
Seems like a pretty desperate move from AMD and also a bit hypocritical considering their latest single-card high-end products aren't much better than NVIDIA's GeForce 8800 series which has been on the market since November 2006.